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A New Sunday School Series

Beginning in a few weeks, we are going to shift in Sunday School from working our way through the Psalms to a focus on what we call Biblical Theology. This approach to theology is focused on interpreting Scripture as it unfolds from beginning to end, keeping Christ's person and work at the center of the unfolding narrative.In a way, this is lifting the hood to show you wha...

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Just Who Was Jesus of Nazareth?

This question and how you answer it are of utmost importance. In fact, your eternal destiny depends upon you answering it well.Over the next few Sundays, as we work through Matthew 11 and 12, we will be confronted with the identity of Jesus and the response of the people to his claims. This section of Matthew opens with John that Baptist, of all people, wondering if Jesus ...

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Church Discipline: Love Is Patient

I want to close this series out with one last reminder abouthowthe Session needs to go about its work in church discipline.Because the Session is motivated by lovelove for Christ, love for the Church, and love for the sinnerlove must punctuate all that the Session says and does. Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 13that"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; ...

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Church Discipline: Rules for Your Good, Part 2

Last week I introduced the three acts of discipline a Session can take with an unrepentant member: Admonition, Suspension from the Sacraments, and Excommunication. This week we'll consider these in more detail.Admonition is simply a formal statement from the Sessioncalling you to repent and turn from your sin. This is sometimes administered to one who has already repented ...

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Church Discipline: Rules for Your Good, Part 1

When it comes to administering church discipline, a Session can do everything else right, but if they don't act out of love for the sinner and in a loving fashion, they can hardly expect the discipline to bear much godly fruit.The "how" of church discipline involves two aspects. One is the more formal and technical rules of discipline. These can seem cold and perhaps too f...

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Church Discipline: Motives Matter

Last week we considered what church discipline is. This week I want to answer "Why do we do it?" The truth is, our motives in discipline matter! If the Session is motivated by a desire to wield power,to get retribution for perceived personal offenses, orto punish behavior, then their motives are not godly motives. There are several proper motives, however, that when combin...

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Church Discipline: The Missing Mark of the Church

Few subjects create more anxiety, confusion, and even anger than the subject of church discipline. For most people, they have either never seen it done, or they've seen it done poorly. Mix in some rugged American individualism and the heart's natural dislike of being called to repentance, and you get a very thorough dislike and mistrust of church discipline on the part of ...

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But, About the Foreigner...

As my brother, Joel McCall, wrote last week, ELI is making major adjustments to serve our national partners in Africa, South Asia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.It is humbling and thrilling to work with these retired pastors, missionaries, and professors who want to "finish well" by training pastors around the world who are unable to go to seminary.One of my...

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Christian Meditation - Psalm 1

I just opened Facebook on my phone. Another building on fire. Another minister talking about the need for a new denomination. Another murderous slaughter of Christians in Nigeria. Another plague sweeping Africa. Another marchin another cityhijacked by looters. Another Supreme Court ruling. And another storm coming tomorrow. Another rant from friends concerning masks on bot...

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When Prayer Is Hard

I mentioned Sunday in my sermon that prayer is sometimes hard. Why is that? Here are a few reasons to consider:Sin and Shame.Sometimes prayer is hard because we are aware of our sin, and we are ashamed andtrying to avoid God. Like Adam and Eve in the Garden, we try to cover our sins ourselves, and we hide from God when he pursues us. If this is what is keeping you from him...

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Praying with the Saints

I suspect few things can induce shame in a Christian as quickly as a pastor bringing up the subject of prayer. Few evangelical Christians would say they believe they pray enough. Some of that is because many don't really understand what prayer is. Others may feel guilty or inadequate because they sense the importance of prayer and can't imagine that they pray as often as t...

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The Order of Worship: Benediction

We conclude our series on the Order of Worshipby considering the Benediction. The Benediction is God's blessing on his people as we go out. God opened the worship by calling us to worship, and he closes the worship by sending us out with his blessing.We see this action commanded by God in Numbers 6:2227. God says that by this action, Aaron and his sons put the name of God ...

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